Cornwall’s only city
Shopping in Cornwall is nothing like going shopping in the rest of the country. Forget massive malls and towns stacked with high street names; here shopping is a more leisurely activity, focussed around local craft markets, unique boutiques and independent labels. Whether you’re browsing in a clothing store or a Christmas market, you’ll find that many of the goods on sale are made by local artisans and inspired by the coastal lifestyle.
If you love to shop, earmark a day to hit Cornwall’s only city: Truro. Here you’ll find everything from vintage fashion and funky shoe shops to food emporiums and festive pop ups lining cobbled streets in the shadow of the cathedral. Dip into Lemon Street Market for upcycled gifts, organic bread and hand-made jewellery, and follow your nose to the farmers’ market that takes over Lemon Quay every Wednesday and Saturday. If you love stylish interiors, stop in at the Uneeka home and lifestyle market, and if you love dressing up and glam nights out you might spend hours rifling through the racks at Enjoy Clothing.
If you’re seeking locally-inspired treasures to bring back memories of your holiday, the streets of St Ives are laced with surf shacks, art galleries, independent book stores and gift shops, all just a pebble’s throw from the sea. One of the most unusual shops in town is Kudos, on Fore Street, a tardis crammed with eclectic artefacts and alternative souvenirs – think rope balls, anchors and Amethyst cathedrals alongside antique furniture, flying pigs and musical instruments.
If you want to unearth one-off artisan gems and meet their makers, head to the Sloop Craft Market or Back Road Artworks, where you can get your hands on the likes of stained glass, driftwood sculptures and beach-inspired jewellery. For prints and souvenirs by some of Cornwall’s greatest artists and writers, take a spin around the gift shop at the new Tate St Ives – and while you’re there head up to the roof terrace and take in the views that have inspired artists for centuries.
While many visitors stick to the honey pot of St Ives in search of arty purchases, nearby Penzance has its fair share of creative caverns where you can find a piece of Cornwall to take home. In this Bohemian market town you can stroll along the Victorian promenade, take a dip in the Art Deco lido and enjoy a shopping spree in contemporary and classic arty haunts. For vinyl LPs, ‘kitchenalia’ and vintage clothing, check out the quirky Steckfensters on Chapel Street, and for contemporary art, jewellery and sculptures make a beeline for the Lighthouse Gallery. If you’ve got a penchant for design accessories head to Space, where you can find everything from designer lampshades to vintage tea sets, or, if you prefer a mix of high street names and local gems, head for the Wharfside Shopping Centre.
If you’re seeking locally-inspired treasures to bring back memories of your holiday, the streets of St Ives are laced with surf shacks, art galleries, independent book stores and gift shops, all just a pebble’s throw from the sea
Neighbouring Marazion is also well-endowed with galleries and gift shops footsteps from the beach. Browse artwork by some of Cornwall’s greats, including Terry Frost and Kurt Jackson, at Out of the Blue Gallery, or discover a collection of contemporary paintings, jewellery, textiles and ceramics by local artists at Avalon Art. Soak up the gob-smacking scenery of St Michael’s Mount and Mount’s Bay as you make your way around the coastline to Mousehole, where there’s a cluster of galleries around the harbour. Stop in at The Ark and you can meet a local pewter craftsman who hand-makes jewellery and ornaments out of this silver-grey alloy that contains Cornish tin.
Within easy reach of St Ives and Mounts Bay, Hayle is getting a reputation as a shopping haven – and not just because of the popular West Cornwall Shopping Park brandishing the likes of M&S, Boots and Next. Bypass the big brands and head into the town proper, where you’ll discover all sorts of independent shops along the foreshore of this estuary town that was one of the world’s most important mining ports during the Industrial Revolution. Glam up with unique fashion items in Dune Boutique, deck yourself out with the latest eco-friendly surfing gear in Down the Line, and discover a thriving community of independent makers, designers and artists in the historic Pratt’s Market where you can find everything from a yarn shop to vintage furniture.
Another historic market town with a buzzing shopping scene, this time straddling the River Camel, is Wadebridge. A short distance along the Camel Trail from Padstow it’s little surprise to find an abundance of foodie shops in town – from traditional butchers to artisan bakeries. However, it’s also the array of music shops, fashion boutiques and quirky gift shops interspersed with divine cafés and wine bars that makes shopping here such a joy. For timeless home-wares and lifestyle products take a visit to Coastal Spaces or Rural Urban, and complete your beach-inspired interior with accessories from the Cornwall Rug Company.
Whether you cycle from Wadebridge, hop on the ferry from Rock or park and ride the bus into town, Padstow is possibly one of the most picturesque pit stops for shoppers who want to take home a piece of the chic coastal lifestyle. Stroll along the quayside to peruse Dreya Wharry’s stained-glass seascapes at The Picture House, or get your hands on limited edition prints, unusual ceramics and bespoke patchwork furniture at Quay Art. Rick Stein’s interest in the town doesn’t stop at food; his ex-wife is also at the helm of a wonderful gift shop stacked with jewellery, ceramics and stylish homeware inspired by her travels. And, if you’re in Cornwall on a winter break, the Padstow Christmas Market brings together the best of the county’s food, drink and gifts in one of the most vibrant and bustling events on Cornwall’s festive calendar.
A short distance along the Camel Trail from Padstow it’s little surprise to find an abundance of foodie shops in town – from traditional butchers to artisan bakeries
Cruise west along the Atlantic Highway and pull over to discover an array of art, food, furniture and trendy interior accessories at the county’s coolest up-and-coming shopping hub, Hawkesfield. Encapsulating the shopping ethos of Cornwall in a single location, here you can don ethical outdoor clothing from Finisterre, stock up on coastal-inspired vintage interior accessories from the Goose Shed, deck your pad out with vibrant art rooted in nature from Circle Contemporary, and toast your shopping experience with a world-class vintage from Bin Two wine shop.
Any surfer wannabes would be foolish to bypass the shopping experience of Newquay – home to one of the largest collections of surf shops in Europe. After one lap of the town you can be dressed up and dapper in the latest surf fashion, or ready to hit the waves with a wetsuit and board. Or, you can simply do a one-stop shop at the Fistral Surf Complex, where there’s a line-up of surfside shops including Ann’s Cottage, Fat Face, Quiksilver and Animal. Style queens should head out of town to Porth Beach, where the ultra-trendy Roo’s Beach boutique is styled on the Cornish coastal life and crammed with designer clothes and accessories for beach babes.
Carry on to Mawgan Porth and you’ll find a creative little community huddled by the beach. Original coastal-themed woodwork and crafts can be found in KaranDave studios, where a duo of local artists create laser-cut, hand-painted art inspired by the local environment. Just opposite is the unusual Disco Beads, where you can hand-make your own jewellery using eye-catching beads that glow in the light. However, it’s Married to the Sea that really sews up the vibe of this seaside community in its fashionable beachwear that’s made for every season. If you’re looking for bargain surf togs, scour the racks of Ann’s Cottage discount warehouse nearby in St Columb, where all the off-casts and previous season’s surf gear gets sold off at a snip of its original price.
An unlikely, yet rewarding, destination for shoppers is the village of St Agnes, enveloped by some of Cornwall’s World Heritage mining territory. Perched on the cliffs, on the site of the historic Wheal Kitty mine, is the Finisterre workshop – the perfect place to kit yourself out for blustery coast path walks and saltwater adventures. Conceived by a group of cold-water surfers, this award-winning clothing brand produces functional, fashionable and ethically-sourced clothing made for life in the Great Outdoors. Wind your way down into the heart of the village to buy unusual handcrafted gifts, including ceramics and metalwork from Churchtown Arts, and Cornish charm beads, hand-made pendants and hand-blown glass art from the Little Feathers Gallery. In the Jo Polack Studio and Gallery you can watch the textile artist at work creating her felt art, eco sculptures, shimmering mackerel shoals and stitch maps of local towns and villages.
Any surfer wannabes would be foolish to bypass the shopping experience of Newquay – home to one of the largest collections of surf shops in Europe. After one lap of the town you can be dressed up and dapper in the latest surf fashion, or ready to hit the waves with a wetsuit and board
If you’re looking for arty souvenirs, there are some unique spaces that bring together the best of Cornish art under one roof. Port Isaac Pottery is a family venture within the walls of a restored Methodist chapel, where you can get your hands on pottery and paintings that echo the coastline, as well as hand-made ceramics and award-winning photography. Polperro’s Ebenezer Gallery is a 19th-century chapel housing a huge range of multi-media artwork by members of the East Cornwall Society of Artists. Far out west, on the edge of Sennen Cove, you can dive into the quirky Roundhouse and Capstan Gallery, the flagship location for West of Eden Fine Art and a showcase for local art and crafts inspired by the surrounding scenery.
Some of the best places to discover a range of art and unusual gifts are Cornwall’s garden centres. Not just somewhere to pick up your potting compost, you can spend a day browsing, shopping and dining at these sub-tropical spaces. Trevisker Garden Centre, near Padstow, is an emporium of plants and gifts, as is the Carnon Downs Garden Centre. If you’re at Heligan, the Eden Project, Trebah, or one of the National Trust gardens spanning Cornwall, you’ll find that the gift shops for green-fingered folk harbour some of the best take-home goodies the county has to offer.
If you’ve got a penchant for possessions steeped in art, literature and maritime style, the destination to flash your cash is Falmouth. Get here by boat from Truro, or park and ride from Penryn; however you travel, once here you will find one of Cornwall’s most creative and diverse shopping hubs. The famous Beside The Wave gallery is crammed with the work of some of the county’s most established contemporary artists – in fact, the art here has become so sought after that a second gallery space has been opened in London.
If words are your passion, you can get captivating literature signed by local authors at the traditional Falmouth Bookseller, or browse wall-to-wall books over a beer at the quirky Beerwolf Books. For an assortment of maritime gifts, from model sailing boats and beach-inspired jewellery to a coastal cookbook or cuddly crabs, you can’t find a better selection than that at the National Maritime Museum Gift Shop.
Some of the best places to discover a range of art and unusual gifts are Cornwall’s garden centres. Not just somewhere to pick up your potting compost, you can spend a day browsing, shopping and dining at these sub-tropical spaces
Secret shopping hotspot
While most visitors head to picturesque Porthleven to take snaps of the much-photographed clock tower or to surf one of the UK’s best reef breaks, this pint-sized harbour town is also something of a secret shopping hotspot. Watch the waves from the harbour wall then step into Waves Surf Art Gallery to clap eyes on images that capture the power, beauty and hues of the ocean.
Take home colourful Cornish beach scenes in the form of prints, coasters and placemats from Albatross Art, or, if you like rustic home accessories and hand-crafted gifts, you’ll find everything from driftwood mirrors to striking sea-life wall art at the Stargazey emporium. The Slipway Studio Gallery and Craft Workshop is packed with photography, prints, books and gifts, most of which is produced by a talented hub of local artists and makers.
Famous for its chic maritime style, the bustling harbour-side town of Fowey is another fine place to fill your shopping bags. In the cluster of independent shops and waterside boutiques you’ll find all sorts of coastal-inspired gifts from hand-made jewellery and literary treasures to glassware and beach fashion. Dip into the Toe in the Water Gallery for a range of creations by local artists and makers – from hand-made jewellery and fused glass to original prints and paintings. Take a trip out to The Gribbin Gallery on Porthkerris Beach, and browse modern seascapes and glasswork on display in the quirky setting of a 17th-century pilchard store.
Follow the river inland from Fowey and you’ll eventually reach the small town of Lostwithiel, an ancient stannary town that has become the antiques capital of Cornwall. The pretty 12th-century streets are packed with antique and gift shops, including the eccentric Black Dog Antiques and Interiors emporium housed in Duchy Palace – one of Cornwall’s oldest buildings.
The bustling harbour-side town of Fowey is another fine place to fill your shopping bags. In the cluster of independent shops and waterside boutiques you’ll find all sorts of coastal-inspired gifts from hand-made jewellery and literary treasures to glassware and beach fashion
Now that Cornwall has a reputation for being one of the UK’s foodie destinations, any shopping trip here is bound to include some tasty treats to take home. If you love chocolate and art, follow your taste buds to The Chocolate Factory and Craft Centre near Mullion (on the Lizard Peninsula), where you can see chocolatiers making mouth-watering morsels, dip into an Aladdin’s cave of gifts and jewellery, sample skincare products made with Cornish honey, discover local artwork and meet the llamas.
With Padstow being the town that put the county on the gastronomes’ map, it’s little wonder that the Padstow Farm Shop boasts one of Cornwall’s most impressive arrays of lip-smacking local produce, including fresh pasta made on site and Cornish durum flour that’s favoured by the chefs at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall. In town, Stein’s deli is the one-stop shop for delicious local produce and coastal giftware, from Cornish crab sandwiches and local ales to cookbooks and funky platters to serve your seafood on. A short hop up the coast, and close to Port Isaac, is the Trevathan Farm Shop in St Endellion, where you can also stock up on delectable local fare from fresh veg and local preserves to fudge, free-range eggs and Cornish wines.
St Ives is hot on the heels of Padstow’s foodie reputation, and here you’ll also find shops piled high with gourmet delights. Pack your picnic hamper with artisan bread, crumbly cheeses and cured meats from The Allotment Deli or The Digey Food Room. Or roll up on a Thursday for a smorgasbord of artisan produce on sale at Gulp – the St Ives Farmers’ Market. Just out of town in Connor Downs is Trevaskis Farm, where you can fill your basket with piles of local goodies from fish and dairy produce to farm-reared meats, just-picked veg and pick-your-own summer fruits.
If you think you’ll get peckish on your shopping road trip, Falmouth’s Courtyard Deli and the Cornish Smokehouse in Grampound Road go one step further than providing delectable Cornish produce – they will even pack you a bespoke hamper or lunchbox that you can tuck into on the road.
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